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Presiding over Salt Lake Temple is 'one of the highlights of our lives'

When Pres. Spencer H. Osborn speaks of his long hours and hard work in presiding over the Salt Lake Temple, his tone is one of dedication and devotion.

"The Lord has blessed my wife [Avanelle, who serves as temple matronT and me so abundantly," he related. "I'm deeply grateful that we were able to be here for the centennial year of the temple. This is the highlight of our temple experience, and the temple experience is one of the highlights of our lives."As temple president, Pres. Osborn is serving on the temple centennial committee, which is headed by Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy, who is also executive director of the Historical Department.

Pres. and Sister Osborn have served at the Salt Lake Temple since September 1990. Before that he served in the Seventy from 1984-1989. He also served two years as a counselor to Elder Marion D. Hanks, emeritus General Authority, when the latter was temple president. (Please see accompanying box for list of presidents of the Salt Lake Temple.)

The temple presidency today consists of Pres. Osborn and his counselors, Pres. Collins Jones and Pres. Charles Lauritzen. Serving as assistant matrons are the wives of the counselors - Betty Jones and Elaine Lauritzen. Serving as temple recorder is David Wright.

Now in the last year of his three-year administration as temple president, Pres. Osborn reflected on the apprehension he felt when he was called to the position. "When I received this calling and contemplated the Brethren who have served as president and who have occupied this seat, I felt terribly inadequate," he said during a Church News interview in his office.

"But you know, the marvelous thing about any call in the Church is that the Lord fits us for the task, and even though we feel inadequate, the yoke feels comfortable after awhile. I don't suppose I ever lose the anxiety that I originally felt relative to the great challenges of this temple, but the magnificent workers who serve here, my counselors and the matrons, all have assumed their share of the load, and the work has gone forward in a positive manner."

From the beginning of his tenure, Pres. Osborn said, he has been concerned that the ordinances are performed precisely as the Lord has directed. In addition, he said he has sought to ensure "that our workers here in this temple, this great body of 3,000 faithful Latter-day Saints, are happy in their service and being blessed through their labors, and that our patrons are well served and blessed through their attendance, and they feel the Spirit of the Lord in their temple worship.

"These goals have been a constant thrust of our administration," Pres. Osborn added.

He said the key to success at the temple is the love and encouragement expressed among the workers, which then reflects on their service to temple patrons. "If the workers are blessed with the spirit of contentment and enjoyment in their work, then their treatment of the patrons is going to reflect that spirit," he said.

Pres. Osborn surmised his responsibilities don't differ much from other temple presidents, but "because of the volume of sealings and marriages that are done here, we have a scheduling challenge probably not found in other temples.

"Some days we'll have maybe 100 marriages in one day, and that's usually done before 2 p.m. Yet we try to make sure every marriage party that comes to the temple is treated with courtesy and is unrushed," he added.

And it's this spirit of kindness that keeps Pres. Osborn out of his office for much of each day. "I tend to travel around the temple a lot," he related. "I like to be out with the people and with the workers. Rather often, I'll slip into a session to catch the spirit of the session.

"Many times a day I have spiritual impulses," he explained, "that someone needs a pat on the back or some encouragement. It's just a quiet moment that comes, and you meet someone who after a few moments of conversation you realize he or she needed a visit with someone who would offer encouragement. To be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to lend a little encouragement is a wonderful feeling."

Pres. Osborn expressed appreciation for the support of his wife, for those with whom he works, and for the support of the General Authorities who comprise the Church's temple committee and those in the Temple Department. "We want to do everything we can to support them and to sustain them," he added.

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